幻 の そ の 他

y o u s t i l l f e e l t h e m o u t t h e r e, d o n ' t y o u


Liam Murphy

January 28, 2024

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Gossamer slushwave communicates the beauty of spaces that drift between the palpable and the otherwordly

The world can feel like a crowded place. Cities are packed more and more densely, the general din of existence feeling louder and louder. Though, in the gaps between this hustle and bustle, one can find the strange phenomena of empty spaces, spaces that feel as if they are on the brink of nonexistence. Bathed in quiet, gentle movement – if any at all – often on account of nature or the other aspects of life that seem unperturbed by a human presence. This is especially true for quiet spaces within those built-up areas or cities. These spaces can provide peace and reflection, and one may experience them in awe if they are found inadvertently. But, what happens when you leave this special place? When no one is there to perceive this space that has been awash with silence and a lack of activity for so long and will, once again, be plunged back into this halfway house between existing and invisibility, who can say if it really is there?

It’s a hard thing to explain, intangible at its very core. Thankfully, music can provide an approximation of that experience. A soft soundscape that evokes a sparse vision in the listener's mind, coupled with moving melodies that simulate that realisation of peaceful loneliness. y o u s t i l l f e e l t h e m o u t t h e r e, d o n ' t y o u brings us there on phantom other (stylised as 幻 の そ の 他). A collection of achingly beautiful ambient tracks, ranging from harrowingly expansive to crowded and slushy, that paint a picture for the listener, only for that image to waver and sometimes wither away completely in front of the mind's eye.

This is arguably conveyed in its strongest form at the very start of the release, with 14-minute opener static/ghost (stylised as 静 的 / 幽 霊) in which celestial pads reach out from under a sheet of rain. Pearlescent and glowing, the melancholic melody feels unrestrained and incorporeal, floating when and where it pleases, but ultimately filling the scene with some grave, harrowing magnitude. A strange light emitting from an empty backstreet, the pleasant though somehow preternatural solitude of a graveyard in which stones are speckled by rain. Whatever comes to mind… the feeling is one of emptiness in the track’s first few minutes. Pads strive outwards, crossing the barrier into the palpable, and as the track ends by finding its stride in a more striving slushwave sound, one concludes that the goodness, the overwhelming warmth from all that exists in our reality and any others that might be out there, will win out. 

Some of the tracks on the release approach this spectacle from a religious perspective, as so often our understanding of realms beyond our physical one is filtered through ideas of a god and some unseen power. On vengeful spirit (stylised as 怨 霊), a commanding yet inaudible voice echoes out from all around, speaking a holographic synth sample into being. From there we watch as this conjuring voice’s creation withers in and out of view, y o u s t i l l f e e l t h e m expertly utilising a large overarching phaser (the slushwaver’s primary tool) to achieve this reality-bending sensation. This track is explicitly less emotional than many of the others, and seeks to directly interact with the existential theme that colours the release in its entirety. The tone is one of power and mystery, lending itself fairly easily to ideas of spirituality and omnipotent higher beings.

The artist even shows us that this emptiness, this sensation of the real falling into the unreal, is capable of happening in places in which people reside. The end to our journey, precipitation (stylised as 降 水 量) emerges with pads snaking out of what sounds like a normal – albeit quiet – daytime scene. Slowly the small shuffles and movements are engulfed by the swirling majesty of the unknown, a light rhythmic element from the delayed cascading percussion. Pillowy synth chords help the beat to emerge even more as we proceed, enveloping the listener around the 5-minute mark as they are launched into another slushy beat. you still feel them does something very special here very special to see the listener out. Not just content with showcasing the unreal nature of empty spaces, the listener is treated to how even the most mundane of spaces in our world can curl up and smoulder gracefully – as we hear in the decadent piano solo – into that strange infinite realm of existence. 

Finding these places where the air is still and life a little less animated is difficult, dependent on where you live. Life rarely stops, giving us little opportunity to exist in the moment. However, with notions of spirituality and realms beyond our own providing you still feel them with the inspiration, and the swirling, gossamer sounds of slushwave as their tool, they provide a collection of works the sonic equivalent to expressionist paintings. This is evidenced perfectly in those tracks that move from boundless ambient to slushy ballad. Our world’s empty spaces – and even simply quiet spaces – are rendered as portals to a vast and endless beyond.

Available on cassette now...